Long-time rivals Argentina and Germany face off for semi-final spot
Long-time rivals Argentina and Germany will face off in a hotly-anticipated World Cup quarter final Saturday, with both teams claiming to be confident of victory. The country’s last World Cup meeting in 2006 ended in a brawl following a German win.
AFP - Football powerhouses Argentina and Germany reignite their intense rivalry on Saturday in an eagerly-anticipated World Cup quarter-final, with both sides boasting they will win.
The two countries met at the same stage in 2006 with Juergen Klinsmann's side going through 4-2 on penalties after over-cautious counterpart Jose Pekerman left Lionel Messi on the bench.
That shootout ended in a brawl when the South Americans reacted angrily after German goalkeeper Jens Lehmann saved Esteban Cambiasso's spot-kick to confirm victory.
The coaches are different now but the desire of both teams to get their hands on the World Cup again hasn't changed.
Argentina lifted the trophy in 1978 and 1986 while the Germans have won three times, in 1954, 1974, and 1990.
Their rivalry stretches back a long way, with the Argentines beating Germany in the 1986 final before losing to them in the 1990 decider, games that featured Diego Maradona.
Now coach, the former midfield maestro is confident his team can counter the current German threat, despite them being high on confidence after crushing old enemy England 4-1 in the round of 16.
"We will take stock of our situation, then we will try and put together the best team to showcase our talents against Germany," said Maradona, who is seeking to join Franz Beckenbauer as the only man to have skippered and then coached a country to World Cup glory.
"It will be the team to give us the guarantee to overcome Germany. We know Germany are a different team to (round of 16 opponent) Mexico.
"They are stronger, but we will field the right players to beat them."
Argentina, along with the Netherlands, are the only countries left with a 100 percent record after comfortably beating Nigeria, Greece and South Korea before ending Mexican dreams.
In-form Manchester City striker Carlos Tevez said they do not fear consistent Germany, who have not failed to reach the last eight since 1938.
"I was more afraid of Mexico -- they play better football," he said.
"(Germany) won their game and so reached the quarters, but they are not better than Argentina."
The Germans will have Chancellor Angela Merkel, a keen football fan, in Green Point Stadium watching the match and coach Joachim Loew is hoping his young team can impress her by riding the wave of beating England.
"There is a very positive feeling in the team. We have gained a lot of confidence from taking a victory against England," said Loew.
"A lot of the younger players became European Under-21 champions and it has given them a lot of confidence for a tournament like this."
While Argentina have been unbeatable in South Africa, Loew said he had identified weaknesses, without revealing what they were.
"They have a lot of experience, they have an impressive attack and not just through Lionel Messi alone," he said.
"We have found weaknesses in their side, but I will keep that information for my players."
Germany midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger echoed his coaches comments.
"We have the key to this match, if we play like we did against England, we can win," he said.
The Bayern Munich star was in the side that beat Argentina in 2006, and he remembers their reaction well.
"What I remember most is what happened after the game, this brawl which had been triggered by the Argentinians," he said, then accused the current side of being "disrespectful".
"I find that the behaviour of the Argentinians on the pitch, how they gesticulate and how they try to influence the referee, is disrespectful", said Schweinsteiger as he set the tone for Saturday's enticing encounter.